Balancing act for Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

Balancing act for Sri Lanka

14 August, 2022

The time has now arrived for us to consider the energy security of the entire Asia Pacific region as Sri Lanka sits at the Janus (Roman God of Gates) like the geographical entrance to the eastern hemisphere. Sri Lanka is also the gateway to modern India with the derelict old gateway in Bombay now an eyesore. Sri Lanka is also the gateway to the rest of Asia, Middle East and the African Continent (OIR-ARC region), and to Australia on the eastern flank as members of the 23 country strong IORA.

From the opening lines of the of famous writer Charles Dickens ‘Tale of two Cities’, Sri Lanka is having the best of times and the worst of times with a new dawn in the offing and ‘les miserable’s’ on the other. As I see the altruistic balancing act could be the ultimate arbiter of this tricky situation.

The known crude oil reserves of the Asian region is less than five percent of the world total which stands at about 1000 billion barrels of crude oil and at current consumption rates could last till peak oil reaches around the mid century when the zero emission target in 2050 is also reached.

The Asia Pacific oil consumption also reaches its zenith with China and India gulping it with an unquenchable thirst as the biggest populations on planet earth. Today the poor nations LNG is been diverted to Europe due to the virtual Russian embargo which could have long term consequences to Western European energy needs and as a result the Asian needs to giants like China, Japan and S. Korea could suffer giving Australia the big LNG supplier a captive market against other giants such as Qatar and the US.

With our Petroleum Development Authority in limbo (West Indian Dance) and Sri Lanka eagerly awaits its self reliant economic base the oil/gas remain untapped beneath layers of limestone in the Jaffna Peninsula.

The people wait in queues for the next shipment of refined fuel to meet their daily needs but our PDA does not seem to understand the gravity of the situation and should act with prudence and without delay turn to our hydrocarbons onshore in the peninsula.

Sri Lanka has been drilling for over 50 years and from the beginning it has been a controversy when in 1973 an oil discovery in the Manner Islands of Pesalai was announced with jubilation but later dismissed as a hoax or an act of sabotage by a high official of the CPC and it seems quite clear to all and sundry that it still continues today?

Trevor Jayetileke, B.Sc. (Ceylon)
Consultant in Upstream Petroleum and freelance writer
Former Adviser to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources Development of Sri Lanka